Pain Awareness Month
Nearly 100 million Americans experience chronic pain, but this affliction remains one of the most difficult conditions to identify, treat, and explain to patients. The importance of education about the causes, symptoms, and management of chronic pain is why September is Pain Awareness Month.
Understanding Chronic Pain
The many different causes of chronic pain underscore how important it is to define the term. Chronic pain is pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. Sometimes, this is caused by injury or ongoing illness, but lasts for a longer period than pain reasonably and typically should. Elderly adults are more at risk for chronic pain, but it can affect people of any age.
Facts About Chronic Pain
- 1.5 billion people are stricken with chronic pain.
- Chronic pain is the most common cause of long term disability in the United States, and affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.
- 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point.
- Pain causes workers to lost 4.6 hours of productivity per week on average.
Living with chronic pain can be debilitating and a serious obstacle to enjoying and functioning during your every day life. It can reduce mobility, flexibility, strength, and endurance, further proving a challenge to accomplishing daily tasks or engaging in enjoyable activities. It can also have a pronounced, negative impact on mood and morale.
If you're afflicted with chronic pain, it's important to consult a doctor to establish the type and cause of pain. This isn't always immediately recognizable. Pain is subjective to everyone, and a doctor will often have to depend on a patient's description of the pain to begin identifying it. It helps to have an idea of how to describe pain in terms familiar to the doctor, especially if there's no obvious source, such as a recent injury.
Think: is your pain constant, or intermittent? Is it sharp or dull? Is it causing an aching or burning sensation? No test can precisely locate or measure pain, but these questions will help a professional narrow down the potential types and causes of your pain.
Types & Causes of Chronic Pain
Types of Chronic Pain:
- Arthritis pain
- Cancer pain
- Lower back pain
- Neurogenic pain: pain caused by nerve damage
- Post-surgical pain
- Post-trauma pain
Causes of Chronic Pain:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
These underlying conditions are varied and often difficult to immediately diagnose, particularly compared to pain related to a recent injury or surgical procedure. Chronic pain is most common in elderly adults, but also is more likely to occur in women, and in overweight people.
Treating Chronic Pain
Treatment for chronic pain issues is varied, both due to its many causes, as well as the numerous symptoms that may be concurrent. Often accompanying chronic pain are fatigue, sleep disturbances, decreased appetite, and changes in mood - symptoms that make chronic pain more difficult to diagnose and treat.
As everyone's experience with chronic pain is uniquely personal, treatment will be tailored to a specific person's cause and type of pain, as well as any accompanying symptoms. A pain history, or record of instances and locations of pain kept by both patient and doctor is helpful in diagnosis and determining the best course of treatment.
- Over the counter pain relievers: acetaminophen (Tylenol), as well as NSAIDS (aspirin and ibuprofen)
- Adjuvant analgesics: these are not primarily designed to control pain, but they help manage chronic pain.
- Opioid pain relievers
It's worth mentioning that the body can develop a tolerance to the effects of opioid pain relievers, creating a need for increased dosages and dependence. They can also be addictive. Any use of opioids should be discussed seriously with a medical professional, and continued use should be monitored regularly by your doctor.
Mountain Ice, our own brand of all-natural, topical pain relief gels, was developed due to the alarming increase in opioid dependency. The unique blend of ingredients is specially designed to target pain directly at the source with no harmful side effects. Since our release, we have seen incredible results with many people weaning off of their opioid medications, and stopping them altogether, and relying solely on Mountain Ice.
Mountain Ice is for any type of pain that you may experience. Back pain, muscle pain, joint pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, pain from injuries, neck pain, and the list continues. Mountain Ice can be applied on any area for up to 4 times a day. For extra, added comfort and relief, apply Mountain Ice to the affected area immediately after a warm shower or a heating pad, as the ingredients work even faster than normal!
Since releasing Mountain Ice, we have had a local nursing home see a drastic difference when their patients began using Mountain Ice instead of relying on medications. Mountain Ice was tried on 6 different people, all of which either stopped their medicines completely, or cut down immensely.
Medical Procedures & Options:
- Electrical Stimulation
- Nerve Block
In addition, there are numerous lifestyle remedies that can be used to manage chronic pain and its effects. Much of this may involve self management, which may include: communication techniques, stress management, proper diet and exercise, activity pacing, and managing your level of activity to prevent overexertion on days when pain has eased.
Lifestyle Management Techniques
- Exercise: which produces endorphins that improve mood and block pain signals. Exercise also strengthens muscles and improves mobility, which helps treat the source of pain.
- Cold Compression Therapy
- Heat Therapy
- Massage (with Mountain Ice)
- Physical Therapy
- Relaxation Therapy: with methods such as yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Well-balanced Diet
Lifestyle management is often overlooked, but it is vital to managing chronic pain. Managing not only pain, but also mental health, is important to continue to live an active and enjoyable life. Many people suffering from chronic pain seek out psychotherapy and support groups. Communication is key: learning how to communicate to your loved ones your physical needs and situation can be invaluable.
All pain is personal. It affects different people in different ways and to different degrees. Don't be afraid to explain to your loved ones how you are feeling. They're there to support and comfort you, and you can guide them towards how best to do so. Pain Awareness Month is about helping people understand the challenges of chronic pain.